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Monday, April 9, 2012

Somalia sees recovery with new Turkish investments

Long plagued by domestic violence, drought and poverty, Somalia aspires to cast bad memories aside with Turkish support to establish new industries that will create jobs.

Observers see new investments as a magic wand to accelerate an anticipated recovery from problems tearing the country apart. Despite political conflicts and a slow international response, Turkey has continued to reach out with aid to Somalia, sending teams bringing food and medical equipment. Turkish efforts to establish new industries that will create jobs in the country also accompanied humanitarian aid. The Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) is among the Turkish NGOs to lead investment efforts in Somalia.

Somalia’s President Sharif Sheikh Ahmad on Sunday met Turkish businessmen, praising Turkish efforts to facilitate reconstruction in the country. As he thanked the Turkish government and civil society for their help to Somalia, Ahmad noted that Turkey was the first country that came to Somalia’s aid. The president said he expected to see more Turkish participation in new investments, underlining that trade ties between the two countries continue to improve. Ahmad said many people in Somali were saved from death by starvation due to Turkey’s financial and food aid. In terms of developing business relations, Ahmad said that on many issues new collaborations have been made and that these will produce positive results. “Turkey has helped our voice be heard in the international arena; we are grateful for this and expect our partnership to continue.” Ahmad emphasized that Turkey’s help will be of great importance in maintaining sustainable peace in the country.

Businesspeople from Somalia and Turkey met to discuss partnerships on Saturday in the Somali capital of Mogadishu at a Somalia-Turkey business forum, the first event of its kind in the African country for the past two decades. Somali Minister of Trade Mohamed Ahmed Keynan chaired the forum, which hosted TUSKON member entrepreneurs from the construction, energy, textile, food, automotive and fishery sectors. Speaking at Saturday’s meeting, Keynan said his government expected to see more Turkish participation in new investments in Somalia, underlining that trade ties between the two countries continue to improve. Meanwhile, the establishment of the Somali-Turkish Businessmen’s Association (SOMTURBAS) was also announced at the meeting. The new association is expected to provide assistance to companies from both sides for future business partnership deals.

What Somalia suffers from is actually a wider disaster -- known as the Horn of Africa famine -- also affecting Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti. Somalia was by far the worst affected due to militants at home who refused to allow in aid. The UN’s refugee agency last July labeled the situation in drought-ridden Somalia as “the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.”

Meanwhile, Turkey still continues aid to Somalia. Speaking on Sunday in Mogadishu, Turkish charity organization Kimse Yok Mu representative Lütfullah Arslan said they would remain in the capital providing both food and medical treatment to people suffering from the drought. Arslan and his team arrived in Mogadishu 10 months ago, and they call on other Turkish NGOs to provide aid to Somalia.
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